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Currently Browsing: romance
Dec
20

Review: Nightwalker by Allyson James

Review: Nightwalker by Allyson James Nightwalker Author: Allyson James  Release Date: Oct. 11, 2012 Publisher: self-published Stormwalker #4 ISBN: #978-0986023842 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (376 pgs), e-book Book Source: Purchased with my own funds About the book: Stormwalker Janet Begay, proprietor of the Crossroads Hotel, a place where the paranormal stop for a safe night’s rest, discovers the hard way that a slayer is targeting Ansel, a Nightwalker who’s become a more-or-less permanent resident.  When Janet and her lover Mick intervene to save Ansel’s un-life, they find that the attack is the beginning of an oncoming storm. Janet has her hands full already with the upcoming marriage of her father, the return of a woman who claims to be Coyote’s wife, her crazy half-sister, a couple dragons on her back, and her worry about Mick, who’s behaving strangely again.  But it seems that everyone is after Ansel, who fears he killed the woman he loves in a Nightwalker frenzy. Janet must choose between protecting Ansel, or facing the most powerful magical beings in the world, who are willing to destroy Janet, Mick, her hotel, and everyone she cares about to get to Ansel and his secrets.  What I’m talking about: Nightwalker is the fourth installment of Allyson James’ excellent Stormwalker urban fantasy series centering around Native American Janet Begay, born from half evil goddess and half storm magic. This series is one of my absolute favorites, and while you could start with Nightwalker, I highly recommend you start at the beginning. The overarching plot development and detailed character growth over the first three stories is phenomenal, making each story richer than the previous. Our current story opens with Janet’s friend and resident nightwalker (vampire), Ansel, under attack from a professional slayer. It appears that Ansel may have killed his human girlfriend while in a blood frenzy, and now her sister has placed a bounty on Ansel’s head. And per usual, poor Janet can’t catch a break. As she takes off on her brand new motorcycle to investigate a lead, her bike becomes possessed, carrying her at high speeds down the highway. And to top it off, her magic mirror is broken – all darkened and unresponsive. Nightwalker, like each book before it, had me hooked from the very start. First, the overall mystery is engrossing. Janet and her fiancé Mick work together to figure out if Ansel did kill his girlfriend, or if not him, who is hiding the truth. Along the way...
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Dec
19

Review: Skies of Steel by Zoe Archer

Review: Skies of Steel by Zoe Archer Skies of Steel Author: Zoe Archer  Release Date: Nov. 6, 2012 Publisher: Avon Impulse The Ether Chronicles #3 ISBN: #978-0062218155 Genre: Steampunk Romance Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher/ Edelweiss About the book: The prim professor Daphne Carlisle may be a scholar, but she’s far more comfortable out in the field than lost in a stack of books. Still, when her parents are kidnapped by a notorious warlord, she knows she’ll need more than quick thinking if she is to reach them in time. Daphne’s only hope for getting across enemy territory is an airship powered and navigated by Mikhail Denisov, a rogue Man O’ War who is as seductive as he is untrustworthy. The jaded mercenary Mikhail will do anything for the right price, and he’s certain he has this mission—and Daphne—figured out: a simple job and a beautiful but sheltered Englishwoman. But as they traverse the skies above the Mediterranean and Arabia, Mikhail learns the fight ahead is anything but simple, and his lovely passenger is not entirely what she seems. The only thing Mikhail is certain of is their shared desire—both unexpected and dangerous. What I’m talking about: Professor of Anthropology Daphne Carlisle finds herself in a desperate situation when her parents are kidnapped by a warlord on the Arabian Peninsula. The British government refuses to get involved, which leaves Daphne to seek out the help of rogue Man O’ War Airship Captain Mikhail Mikhailovish Denisov. Once a decorated Captain in the Russian navy, Mikhail is now a mercenary for hire. Daphne convinces a wary Mikhail to take her to her parents with ransom in tow. Once underway, Daphne and Mikhail discover that each has secrets to hide, yet their attraction to one another is strong. Both fascinated with the other, but unwilling to share personal stories. They play a fragile game, revealing only the barest amount of information and only when forced into a situation which calls for the truth. I adored the opening chapter of Skies of Steel. The whole exchange between Daphne and the Captain as she barters for passage to the Arabian Peninsula set the stage for their exciting journey! The entire scene was well written and successful at pulling me into the book! The descriptions of Mikhail … are sublime. Hard angles comprised his face: a boldly square jaw, high cheekbones, a decidedly Slavic nose. The slightly almond shape of this eyes revealed distant Tartar blood, while his curved,...
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Dec
18

Review: Touch of Steel by Kate Cross

Review: Touch of Steel by Kate Cross Touch of Steel Author: Kate Cross  Release Date: Dec. 4, 2012 Publisher: Signet Clockwork Agents #2 ISBN: #978-0451238825 Genre: Steampunk Romance Format(s): Paperback (352 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: The Wardens of the Realm are a group with extraordinary abilities, dedicated to protecting England from any threat. But in this steam-powered world, there’s a fine line between enemy and ally… Reeling from her brother’s death, beautiful American spy Claire Brooks has vowed revenge on the member of The Company who she believes to be responsible: Stanton Howard. But when she chases the man to London, Claire is captured by the Wardens of the Realm and placed in the custody of the Earl of Wolfred, the dashing Alistair Payne. Seeing the prospect of retribution slipping away, Claire convinces Alistair that she has defected and will help him take down The Company. As they travel via steam liner, Claire and Alistair must pretend to be engaged. Claire can’t deny the growing attraction she feels for her pretend husband, but when Howard is finally within her reach, she will have to decide whether her true loyalties lie with The Company or with her heart What Una is talking about: As a recent convert to the world of Steampunk, I may not understand it all, but I do love it!  Ms. Cross’s latest installment in the Clockwork Agents series, Touch of Steel is just as mesmerizing as the first book, Heart of Brass.  If you want to just jump in on this book, feel free, but the connections of the characters will be stronger if you read the first book.  Plus, it was a great read. Touch of Steel begins with Claire Brooks, a Company agent following Stanton Howard, another agent with the Company – one she believes killed her brother.  The Company has done nothing to punish him so she takes it upon herself to avenge her brother, Robert.  Racing along the rooftops, both suffering gunshot wounds, Stanton gains the upper hand and throws Claire off the roof and gets away.  Claire’s fall is broken by a passing carriage and she is taken into Warden custody.  Her only hope to stay alive and get back on Stanton’s trail is to appeal to a fellow former agent and friend, Luke. Alistair, an agent with the Wardens and the Earl of Wolfred, is recovering from being almost killed by an enemy spy.  It seems Alistair tends to be attracted to the...
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Nov
15

Review: Her Sky Cowboy by Beth Ciotta

Review: Her Sky Cowboy by Beth Ciotta Her Sky Cowboy Author: Beth Ciotta  Release Date: Nov. 6, 2012 Publisher: Signet The Glorious Victorious Darcys #1 ISBN: #978-0451238474 Genre: Steampunk Format(s): Paperback (352 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Amelia Darcy has no interest in marrying well. Her heart belongs to the sky and the dirigibles of brass and steel that swoop over Victorian England. But when her father, an eccentric inventor, dies, the Darcy siblings are left with scrap metal—and not a penny to their names. Their only hope to save the family reputation and fortune is to embark on a quest to discover an invention of historical importance in honor of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Armed with only her father’s stories of a forgotten da Vinci workshop, a mechanically enhanced falcon, and an Italian cook, Amelia takes flight for Florence, Italy. But her quest is altered when her kitecycle crashes into the airship of ex-Air Marshal—and scandalous dime novel hero—Tucker Gentry. Tuck agrees to escort Amelia to her destination, but the two are challenged by political unrest, a devious sky pirate, and their own sizzling attraction. Soon the pair is dragged into an international conspiracy that could change the course of history…again. What Una is talking about: I admit, I am still a bit of a newbie when it comes to Steampunk.  However, I enjoy the melding of technology and historical within my romance.  I jumped at the chance to read the first in this steampunk series, The Glorious Victorious Darcys.  Although I had a bumpy start and I am still a bit wary, I enjoyed Her Sky Cowboy and look forward to the next novel in this series. Ms. Ciotta has introduced the reader to an interesting mythology in this new steampunk series.  It seems an accomplished inventor created a time machine that was debuted at the World’s Fair, causing quite a stir.  Unfortunately, that time machine that went 100 years into the future…then returned with people from the 1960’s (referred to as Mods) in order to prevent wars.  This Peace War caused a significant shift in history.  Those that came back remained (because I believe the time machine was destroyed).  Those of the era, Victorians (Vics for short) that somehow bred with these Mods produced Freaks.  So named because due to the fact that one parent came from the future, caused their eyes to be a kaleidoscope of color…and they seem to posses an unusual skill or talent.      What I...
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Oct
24

Review: Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Review: Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher Ghost Planet Author: Sharon Lynn Fisher   Release Date: Oct. 30, 2012 Publisher: Tor Science Fiction ISBN: #978-0765368973 Genre: Science Fiction Romance Format(s): Paperback (352 pgs), e-book Book Source: NetGalley About the book: Psychologist Elizabeth Cole prepared for the worst when she accepted a job on a newly discovered world—a world where every colonist is tethered to an alien who manifests in the form of a dead loved one. But she never expected she’d struggle with the requirement to shun these “ghosts.” She never expected to be so attracted to the charming Irishman assigned as her supervisor. And she certainly never expected to discover she died in a transport crash en route to the planet.  As a ghost, Elizabeth is symbiotically linked to her supervisor, Murphy—creator of the Ghost Protocol, which forbids him to acknowledge or interact with her. Confused and alone—oppressed by her ghost status and tormented by forbidden love—Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence.  But her quest for answers lands her in a tug-of-war between powerful interests, and she soon finds herself a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet…a struggle that could separate her forever from the man that she loves. What Nima’s talking about: I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a long time. Sharon Lynn Fisher’s Ghost Planet grabbed me into one of those book trances that leaves you unable to do laundry, sleep, or function in the real world until you finish.  When forced to put the book down, you walk around in a book bubble thinking about the plot and how it might twist and turn until you can pick it up again.  This is when you decide pancakes are awesome for dinner so you can go back to your comfy spot and slip back into the emotions of the book. I love science fiction and have never felt that it should exclude romance.  Relationships always drive a story whether it’s between warring factions, governments, scientists, or star crossed lovers.  Where would Star Wars be without Hans and Leia?  Ghost Planet blends them seamlessly and this is a story where neither the science nor the romance takes a backseat to the other.  They both hold their own in a way that as they interact, they are each become more.  The sum is greater than its parts. The science is also approachable for those of us who didn’t major in molecular biology. More than anything, this is a...
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Oct
3

Review: Night of Fire by Nico Rosso

Review: Night of Fire by Nico Rosso Night of Fire Author: Nico Rosso  Release Date: July 10, 2012 Publisher: Avon Impulse The Ether Chronicles #2 ISBN: #978-0062201089 Genre: Steampunk Romance, Western Format(s): Paperback (256 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher/Edelweiss About the book: US Army Upland Ranger Tom Knox trades the front lines for a different conflict as he returns home to California on his ether-borne mechanical horse. Three years ago, he skipped town, leaving the one girl who ever mattered. Rosa Campos.  He thinks she’ll be settled down but discovers Rosa’s the town sheriff, caught in a battle with a mining company’s five-story, rock-eating machine. Tom’s the last person Rosa expects to see riding out of the sky to her aid, and seeing him again reignites a flame more dangerous than the enemy threatening to destroy them both. What I’m talking about: Our hero, Tom Knox, left his small coastal hometown of Thornville three years ago, leaving behind his love, Rosa Campos. He joined the service and has been fighting against the Hapsburg soldiers here on US soil – or in Tom’s case, in the sky as an Upland Ranger. Before Tom left, he wasn’t much of a hero or a man worthy of Rosa, and her parents were certain to remind him of that often. He returns now, uncertain of how he’ll be received, yet certain that Rosa has settled down and moved on. To his surprise, Rosa is a changed woman – now the sheriff of Thornville, and she’s never forgiven Tom for abandoning her those three long years ago. Unfortunately, as soon as Tom arrives, there are serious problems for Thornville. The Crandall Mining Company, unhappy that no one would sell land in Thornville, is heading towards town in a massive monstrosity of a machine that destroys everything in its path. It’s up to Tom and Rosa to overcome their past and work together to save the town. Although this is the second story in The Ether Chronicles, the opening of Night of Fire is almost the complete opposite of the first book, Skies of Fire. Instead of jumping right into the action as in Skies, this book takes its time and introduces the reader to the surrounding landscape. We take a stroll down memory lane with Tom as he flies his way back to his childhood homestead and the woman he left behind. The beginning focuses on world-building and filling the reader in on the environment of the times. Another change from...
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Sep
21

Review: Skies of Fire by Zoe Archer

Review: Skies of Fire by Zoe Archer Skies of Fire Author: Zoë Archer  Release Date: April 17, 2012 Publisher: Avon Impulse The Ether Chronicles #1 ISBN: #978-0062184498 Genre: Steampunk Romance Format(s): Paperback (224 pgs), e-book Book Source: Author/Publisher/Edelweiss About the book: Man made of metal and flesh Captain Christopher Redmond has just one weakness: the alluring spy who loved and left him years before…when he was still just a man. Now he’s superhuman—a Man O’ War, made as part of the British Navy’s weapons program—and his responsibility is to protect the skies of Europe. If only he could forget Louisa Shaw. A most inconvenient desire Louisa, a British Naval Intelligence agent, has never left a job undone. But when her assignment is compromised, the one man who can help her complete her mission is also the only man ever to tempt her body and heart. As burning skies loom and passion ignites, Louisa and Christopher must slip behind enemy lines if they are to deliver a devastating strike against their foe . . . and still get out alive. What I’m talking about: Our action-filled story starts with our brave Man O’War Captain, Christopher, and his ship, Demeter, waged in a sky battle with enemy airships. It’s Her Majesty’s Royal Navy against the Hapsburg (aka Huns) troops, and the odds are against the British. Although Christopher is completely engaged, his mind wanders to thoughts of his lost love, Louisa – the woman who left him three years prior. Christopher’s vessel survives the skirmish only to end up in enemy territory, alone. After successfully hiding from the enemy, Christopher notices a distress signal coming from a nearby village. The crew prepares for and makes a daring rescue of the British Intelligence officer who was ambushed while undercover. The agent is none other than the captain’s long lost love, Louisa. Right at the start of the book, the reader is tossed into heavy action. The scenes are intense and exciting, leaving little room for long, purposeful world-building. Instead, the reader enjoys an almost “on-the-job training,” learning bits and pieces of this steampunk world through the storyline. It’s extremely effective for allowing the reader to get caught up in the plot and become emotionally invested in the characters. Once the initial action quiets some, Ms. Archer takes time to fill in bits and pieces of her world. For example, in the beginning we are told that Christopher is a Man O’War … a man who has been physically altered...
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Aug
31

Quickie Review: Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City by Meljean Brook

Quickie Review: Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City by Meljean Brook “Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City” Author: Meljean Brook  Release Date: Aug. 7, 2012 Publisher: Berkley Iron Seas #1.5 ISBN: #978-1101564639 Genre: Steampunk Romance, Novella Format(s): e-book *it can also be found in the mass market edition of The Iron Duke (Jan. 2012) Book Source: Author About the book:      Eight months after The Iron Duke, can their marriage survive a new danger?      After Mina is called in to investigate the murder of an aristocratic bounder, her husband Rhys—known to the world as the Iron Duke—must overcome his fear for his new bride before his need to protect her tears them apart. But when she invites him to join her at the murder scene, a search for a mysterious killing machine puts her in more danger than ever before…a danger that leads straight back to Rhys. What I’m talking about:      The Invisible City is a lovely epilogue, yet completely stand alone novella, to the first book in Ms. Brook’s Iron Seas series, The Iron Duke. Newcomers to this marvelous series could read and enjoy this story, but it is a real treat to fans of Mina and Rhys… seeing them in action after they’ve been married for a few months.      The story centers around the daily lives of newly married couple Inspector Mina Wentworth and “The Iron Duke,” Rhys Trahaearn. The pair have a deep and richly full backstory which makes up The Iron Duke, so I will not go into that here. Although Rhys has always been the center of public attention (being hailed as the country’s savior from the Horde occupation), now Mina must endure similar notoriety. There is humor in how Mina deals with the press and society, and even more so in how she adapts to Rhys’s oppressive concern for Mina’s well-being. It is a joy to watch the pair continue to adjust to one another, learning to deal with the quirks and to love whole-heartedly.      Mina is called in to investigate the murder of Viscount Redditch, a man who was very vocal about wanting to prevent factories from installing automatons. The novella follows the inspector as she pieces the clues together. Tied into the murder is Mina and Rhys’s “adopted daughter,” Anne, which creates a personal component to the story. This added “glitch” gives heart to what could be just another murder mystery. Overall, the clues are easy to follow and the whodunit entertaining, even...
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Aug
30

Review: Riveted by Meljean Brook

Review: Riveted by Meljean Brook Riveted Author: Meljean Brook  Release Date: Sept. 4, 2012 Publisher: Berkley Iron Seas #3 ISBN: #978-0425256046 Genre: Steampunk Romance Format(s): Paperback (416 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher, Author About the book:      A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland’s inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magical—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.      Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on an airship, searching for her sister and longing to return home. But that home is threatened when scientific expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard, looking to expose Annika’s secrets. Then disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, with their very survival depending on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam… What I’m talking about:      Although Riveted is the third book in the Iron Seas series, it is a completely stand alone story. The only knowledge you need from the prior books is the history of Ms. Brook’s world – one where the Horde (Khan’s) invaded much of Europe and Africa, infecting the people with nanoagents and ruling for a long time. However, she explains much of the basics along the way, so newcomers can jump right in. You can also check out Ms. Brook’s Iron Seas Primer on her website HERE.      The story follows Annika Fridasdottor and her journey to find her sister, Källa. Annika left her small, isolated (and completely hidden from the outside world) settlement to travel the New World as an engineer on an airship, and for four years, she was unsuccessful in her quest. It was fate that brought David Kentewess into her life. David, a vulcanologist headed to iceland aboard Annika’s ship, is searching for the small village his mother hailed from so that he can fulfill her dying wish. It doesn’t take long for David and Annika to realize his mother is from the same place as Annika.      First, a bit about our main couple. Annika is a kick-butt heroine in her own quiet, subdued way – although she would disagree that she is even a heroine. She is fiercely loyal, smart and...
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Jul
13

Review: My Lady Mage by Alexis Morgan

Review: My Lady Mage by Alexis Morgan My Lady Mage Author: Alexis Morgan  Release Date: July 3, 2012 Publisher: Signet Eclipse Warriors of the Mist #1 ISBN: #978-0451237446 Genre: Fantasy, Romance Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley About the book: A cursed destiny. A band of warriors. And one troubled kingdom.      It is whispered in Agathia that the legendary warriors of the mist-cursed by the gods-can be summoned only when a champion is needed and the cause is just. Gideon, their captain, knows this to be the one path that will lead his men to redemption-lest they face an eternity of damnation.      Years have passed since anyone has journeyed to the river’s edge, but times are desperate. Oppressed by a cruel guardian whose dark magic threatens to destroy her people, the beautiful and courageous Merewen calls upon the bespelled warriors. In Gideon she finds more than a champion, and in his arms, more than protection. However, their enemies are fighting with a power darker than anything than they imagined, and should Gideon fail, she will lose everything she holds dear-including her heart. What I’m talking about:      Lady Merewen’s family possesses a good magic that allows them to “communicate” with and care for the horses of the land. This gift provides the family and keep with a secure financial status. Their talent is passed to one member of each generation, and that family member is head of the household. However, when Merewen’s father passed away, her evil Uncle Fagan stepped in and was awarded custody over the keep. His greed and desire for power has corrupted many men in the keep, and Fagan’s neglect as all but broken the manor. After finding an ancient text that promises the help of the Warriors of the Mist, Merewen dares a trip to the River of the Damned to call upon the gods. And the gods answer her call by sending the fabled warriors to aid her.      The mythology of My Lady Mage isn’t one hundred percent original, however it’s different enough to make the story interesting. The world-building is subtle yet complete, drawing me in over the course of the book. The setting is similar to the historical lands of England, with god-sent immortal warriors in a river instead of a Lady in the Lake and King Arthur. Each of the five warriors have secrets and stories to share that will be divulged as the series progresses.    ...
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